Phones, tablets, computers – in today’s world, we are constantly “plugged in.” Hearing aids of the past often limited the wearer’s access to these personal devices. For example, in order to use a music player while exercising, you would have had to remove your hearing aids to accommodate a pair of earbuds. Today, however, Bluetooth technology for hearing aids has made it possible to wirelessly connect with cell phones and other electronic devices to stream audio signals directly to hearing aids.
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is wireless communication technology used to connect two or more electronic devices within a short range. It allows for the transfer of data between these devices using radio waves set to a high frequency, without interference or security risks. For example, Bluetooth can be used to wirelessly connect a music player to a speaker so that the music can be heard clearly from the speaker. In terms of hearing aid technology, Bluetooth capability allows hearing aids to connect wirelessly to cell phones, televisions, computers, tablets, and more.
Are Bluetooth hearing aids available?
Currently a “Bluetooth hearing aid” is not on the market, as the small footprint of the battery wouldn’t allow for the power needs of Bluetooth technology. However, a clever solution has been created for hearing aid wearers to take advantage of Bluetooth. Wireless hearing aids can use compatible assistive listening devices, usually called streamers, to provide a communication link between the hearing aids and any Bluetooth-enabled device.
For those who use Apple devices such as an iPhone or iPad, specific Bluetooth connectivity with hearing aids has been developed to allow the hearing aid to communicate directly with the device, without the need for a streamer. Several hearing aid manufacturers have released hearing aids that implement this Bluetooth technology, marketed as Made for iPhone.
How does Bluetooth technology for hearing aids work?
During your consultation with your audiologist, you should discuss your needs for wireless connectivity. If you use an iOS or Android phone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled device, your provider will likely recommend a set of wireless hearing aids and if appropriate, a compatible streamer.
The wireless hearing aids can then be paired directly with an Apple device (if labeled Made for iPhone) or paired with the streamer. The streamer can then be paired with other Bluetooth-enabled devices. After the devices are connected, the streamer will pick up the Bluetooth signal from your phone, for example, and send it to your hearing aid. Usually the streamer is worn around the neck or placed in a pocket for hands-free operation.
What are the benefits of Bluetooth technology for hearing aids?
Although using a streamer means that it is necessary to carry another device with you, for many people, a streamer provides opportunities for connectivity that were not previously available.
A streamer is able to pair with multiple devices, so you can easily switch between different devices. For example, if you are streaming audio from the television and your phone rings, your streamer is able pause or interrupt the audio from the television to bring you the audio from the incoming phone call.
Remote Control of Your Hearing Aids
Many streamers allow remote control of your hearing aid. For example, you can change the volume of the hearing aid with the help of the streamer. This is especially handy if your hearing aid is too small to accommodate external controls.
Personalized Listening Experience
The audio signal can be set to stream to one or both hearing aids, depending on your preference. For example, you may prefer to have the audio from the television stream to one hearing aid, and the other hearing aid continue to access the sounds in the room.
Simple, Standard Protocol
Bluetooth technology has been in use for years in the mobile phone industry. It is tested, refined, secure, and without interference. Bluetooth technology for hearing aids is not unique to a particular hearing aid or hearing aid manufacturer, so there is uniformity in the way that it works across all devices.
Do I need Bluetooth technology for my hearing aids?
Although it is certainly possible to gain life-changing benefits from your hearing aids even without Bluetooth technology, many wearers find that Bluetooth makes life with hearing aids even easier. The technology of Bluetooth is simple, and the convenience is unbeatable.
To use your hearing aids to stay connected to your network of friends and family, schedule an appointment with the audiologists at Whisper Hearing Centers today. Our experienced and compassionate professionals are eager to help you find the right hearing aids and accessories to fit your needs. Connect with us on Facebook, submit this online contact form, or give us a call at (317)865-2337 today!